Dear Hope Church Friends and Family:
The coronavirus (COVID-19) has now intruded on all our lives. The Session met today to discuss and plan how walk in love together as Christ has loved us (Ephesians 5:2), while walking through this surreal and very real global pandemic. Here is what to expect going forward:
1 - Corporate Worship tomorrow (March 15) is cancelled. We are also cancelling all church related activities for this week (Mar. 15-21). This includes all small groups, the seeJesus study, and Sunday School activities.
This is not to give into the fear surrounding us. We love everyone who is a part of our church family at Hope. Paul makes clear that the ordinary practice of every church shaped by the love of Jesus, must love and care for the weak (Romans 15:1-7). In love we get to rearrange and inconvenience ourselves for the sake of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Furthermore, one of my pastor friends pointed out that this is a way to live out the 6th commandment (do not murder) with prudence and love. Prudence, working together with in love, demands we plan ahead for potential harm to someone else’s life. Thus we are wanting to err on the side of caution to protect those who are at risk. (See Proverbs 22:3)
We would encourage you to spend some time Sunday morning in prayer, listen to a sermon online, and sing the good news of the gospel together. I’ve attached the order of worship that uses Psalm 27. You can go through this together.
Each week in March, on Thursday, the Session will decide whether it is wise to worship on the following Sunday. This will be based on the recommendations of our local government and the known level of risk. Our goal is to be able to meet as those who trust in the resurrection of Christ and who know in Christ death has lost its sting, and to let God speak to us and our fears with His gospel.
2 – Even though this disease has caused us to stay separated this week, the pastors and elders of Hope Church are here to serve you. If you are afraid, sick or in need of a pastoral visit, please call the office or one of our cell phones. We want to be with you as wisdom allows.
3 – On Wednesday, March 18th, Pastor Nate will lead a time of prayer at the church at 6:30pm.
You are invited to join us! Revelation 8:4-5 calls prayer, ‘reversed thunder’. They go up to the heavenly throne room and Jesus sends them back down with earth shattering and ear-splitting results. So we are going to trust God’s promises that come with prayer together.
4 – Some recommendations based on the information from the CDC:
-If you are ill, or been in contact with anyone with COVID-19, we would advise you, along with the CDC recommendations, to stay at home.
-We are also discouraging physical contact within the church (hugs, handshakes, etc…) We are called in love to ‘tame our inner-Italian’, as Pastor Jim put it. Even though I don’t like the awkwardness and the distance, it is right to do for those more prone to be harmed by COVID-19.
-When we meet, we will do our best to clean what we are able. Handwashing is definitely the best recommendation.
5 – Lastly, if for some reason going forward you are unable to get to the grocery store or run important errands, we want to be here to serve you. Please call the office and let us know. COVID-19 has given us great opportunity to be Good Samaritans for one another and for our neighbors.
To our neighbors who are not a part of the Hope Church family - we will do what we are able to serve and help. If you can't get groceries or other basic needs, please call the office at 518-885-7442 to let us know and someone will be in touch.
May God’s overflowing grace and peace in Christ fill you with comfort and wisdom in these coming days! And may God give you opportunity to speak to the hope we have been given in Jesus’ resurrection,
~Pastor Nate for the Session of Hope Church